tv [untitled] June 6, 2012 4:00pm-4:30pm PDT
identified as their life's goal. it creates a world in which -- just saturated with meaningful encounter. and it seems to have been contagious because people have now left our event and they have left our world and they continued to do activities. they did not go to a festival and say their appetite. they came back and tried to change their world. that is why we are starting this burning man project. we think there is a law that we can do together. try it sometime. try living for eight days without buying, selling, listening to an ad, and tell
yourself, disco to give things to people. see what that is like. it is quite remarkable, the effect it has. i could go on forever about this. it is quite a novelty. we do not say that you can live like that all the time, but going back to my original criticism of society. we are going to moderate the appetite of the consumer, which is going to destroy us. then we are born to have to try to find satisfaction in life that did not involve high levels of consumption. we think that kind of meditation will lead you to those things. of course, there is also what coco chanel said, the best
things in life are priceless, but the next best thing is cost lot of money. that is true, too. >> two exceptions to that system, coffee and ice. how did that come to be? >> our history is full of spontaneous actions. we are careful planners today, but none of this was really planned. a lot of it was on the basis of intuition and passion.
the ice is obvious. there is no refrigeration. unless you have a recreational vehicle. you need to preserve food. and we sell it, rather than give it away. we want people to try to prepare themselves and think through everything they need to survive. that is the other part, survival and gifting, an interesting combination. coffee, we had a cafe.
it was a pretty elegant location and we thought it was pretty funny. but as the city grew, just as any city, we need public gathering places, places where people could go who did not know others. you know, one reason tourists go to union square, and they go to a public place where they can belong without knowing anybody. every city needs space like that. we realized at our scale, we needed a civic plaza. we thought about bands, but as
soon as you put them up on stage, you have these consuming crowds listening to the band. the longer they stood there the more beer bottle they drop on the ground. that did not seem attractive at all. we do not leave a trace after the event. we do not want a stage. if you want your own, build it, which people did. so we turned to copy. it affords you a social place. you can stay there all day, we do not care. we are not doing it to make money. we lose money. we do it for the sake of public interaction. to create a civic environment that led to communal feelings. that seems like an exception to the dogma, but what did emerson say?
a speech of consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. >> i was just thinking that. [laughter] going the other direction, as fast as possible, one of the things -- a pattern that has arisen over the years -- a lot of the leading engineers in the technology industry tend to meet with each other at an burning man, recognize kindred spirits, something like that. the most recent case would be
eric schmidt meeting with the founders of google up there. that would reportedly one of the big factors. what is it that makes burning man such a haven for that kind of connection? >> several factors. you think about the culture of silicon valley. eric schmidt had been some interesting papers. he had been making the point that so much of the tech industry is project-based learning. google gives people time off to do what they want. they give them time to explore
and hang out with other people, outside of the framework of this more structured enterprise. burning man, from the very beginning is project-based learning. it attracts people from every demographic that you can think of, every category. so you have to, potentially, encyclopedic knowledge assembled at this place. and the natural way to learn is project-based. scholarship is fine, academic models can be useful for certain things, but human beings tend to learn by engaging in project- based learning. if you look at the desert --
well, here is an example. i was on a tour for the black rock arts foundation. we went to various studios around the area where artwork was getting ready for la playa. all of the big ones involving armies of people with the various skills. it takes her attacker, a traditional art, overlapping fields of knowledge -- takes tech, traditional art, overlapping fields of knowledge. even people who were not elected
to do something here, they joined other people on their project. those of you who are familiar with the world of commercial art, you must know how deeply weird that is. in order to make it any agent -- anyone will tell you at a gallery, the way to make money as an artist is to put your brand on it and make it unique. then it gives it a higher commodity value. the last thing you do is open the collaborate with other people. the theory is to increase the market value. it moves across disciplines fast. there could be a sound component. this guy knows about digital
circuits. pretty soon, you have all of these people. and here is the curious part of it. we never made a rule about this. no one has ever signed anything out there. nobody signs their work. so you have our groups -- it has to be one of the best art schools on earth, at this point. it is just naturally cross- disciplinary. and it seems to work best when you are doing something visionary, that no one has found a reason for, can even justified. let's build this ridiculous thing. [laughter] art tends to be like that,
anyway. television shows, as it comes, you look for the unknown, you will not find it. but art, yes. art is about the unknown, what we can discover in the us. art is a wonderful breeder of that because they are doing something where they are on the front here sometimes. nobody did this. they go well beyond any industry standard. there is something about the culture that is radically cross- disciplinary. we do those things institutions always say they want to do.
we want to get crazy and cross- disciplinary around the shop. let's sit on the floor. let's play foosball. but if you let people loose in an environment -- people will always give to a greater gift. it is just a principle. if a group get together to give a gift to an entire city, it is easy to find people who will give to that. and the consequence is, you can learn a lot. talk about a networking opportunity. but nobody ever went there to network. they went out there to give their energy, imagination, their
heart to something. >> there is that collaboration, the cross-disciplinary thing that happens out there, but i also feel like there is a bit of a sense of competition. people are trying to outdo each other, try to outdo each other trt impressive thing. >> that is human nature. i read a few years ago somebody complaining, i remember the good old days. you could put up a pink flamingo in front of your tent and it was cool. now with all of these big projects, i feel few tile -- futile.
well, they learned the wrong lesson. the interesting thing is, people say that they are connected, but in an environment like that, it is easy to get connected. it is easy to get help. unless you insist on being the leader, you will find something to join. that is what my whole career has been, basically. >> speaking of your career, how did it all start? there are several different versions of the story.
some people said it was a sled that was lost that inspired the whole thing. >> it was rosebud. [laughter] it is true -- you look for the seeds of things. as a causal explanation, i do not know. i told this story to this news guy -- then i got tired of hearing from that. i started the rumor that i was actually a lawyer.
there was something in it. everyone likes a romantic tale. in all humility, if you look at the history of this thing, there are so many tributaries pouring into the course of the greater river. the idea was simply to go to the beach and burn a man. that was the initial impulse. it seemed like a good idea at the time. >> what year was that? >> 1986.
>> that is one thing that comes up, especially for people who have not been. at this stage, it has to be played out, it has to be over, commercialized, sold out. as far as i can tell, it has not. it seems to be in pretty decent shape. is there a conscious strategy for that? for longevity? >> no, but we did remain true to our experience.
the whole gifting thing -- people were sharing things. it would have been in bad taste to sell things. one year, firewood. they desperately want offsite to do it. we did not think it was evil, but we just thought it was tacky. and we stayed true to that sort of thing. it would be too much to expect, we are going to make it not commercial. that is how people are going to bond to our brand. not even rupert murdoch would
come up with that. we just did that because it is what made us feel good. now we are thinking, with the burning man project -- it is interesting. my partners and i are thinking beyond our lifetimes. it is a bit of a legacy project. which is really interesting, an interesting exercise. that makes you feel differently about the present. so what would make something that durable? what would keep it alive that long? we have been alive and have grown for a quarter-century.
it may not be hard to imagine an entire century at all. now we are found in an institution that will house and generate culture, and function as a community. wondering how we can be sure that it is not perverted, subject to internal divisions, will not perish. and that is a really good exercise, too. think about doing something that will last 100 years. >> thinking about the next couple of minutes, we should have questions from audience members. who ever has a question, start lining up.
i'm going to ask one more and then we can start going into the audience. you talked about the fact that you did not happen -- have a branding scheme in place. burning man has expanded from san francisco and nevada, starting to spread throughout the world. one thing that is interesting is burners without borders. whei guess you guys had a libray built in new orleans? >> that was on our website. it was very spontaneous. the groups who knew what they needed, because they are doing building -- they do not have any resources.
started to collect money out there. that was just the beginning. we got a call from somebody asking, is dpw doing this? we said yes. i have $50,000, i will support it. we are a private group. this is not tax deductible. we do not care. and they rebuilt some houses. the problem with most people is they could not even teardown their homes.
but this is the burning man twist. i love telling this story. being who they were, the culture, at the end of each day, the landscape was strewn with debris. you have to seeing the pictures. they gather up the debris, at night, they turn it into a bonfire. that is part of our culture. then locals started to come around and one woman said, i have never seen anything like this. i have never seen anything like this, but i like it. pretty soon, they were making art.
fema is not going to do that for you. and that was just a spontaneous effort. now it has expanded around the world. this came out of burning man, this wild, crazy party. >> let us start over here with a question. >> i would like to ask a question about dpw. the people that build infrastructure. i want to know why they do not get workers' comp when they are injured. >> of course they do. who told you they did not? >> my friends who work for dpw.
they did not have insurance. >> we have workers' comp. i assure you, they are wrong. once in awhile, an employer will claim workers, for something that did not happen on the job. there have been a couple of incidents like that. there could have been discontent over that. of course we have workers caught. ask them again. when did they work for dpw? >> one of them just tweeted me the question. >> my name is anne marie. i represent in north of market community benefit district, the tenderloin. we are very excited to have your
company coming in. just talking about the burning man twist, that is an interesting phrase. this may be premature. any ideas in place to affect our immediate neighbors? especially the children in the tenderloin. there are more children per capita than anywhere else in san francisco. i see it as a fantastic opportunity to collaborate. >> the we moved in and everyone is talking about going up, but when we came in, we did a press conference. we said, we are immigrants here. we want to learn, we want to meet the people that live here. and we are getting to know people better. i will give you an example of
something that could be done. i had an idea, based on an installation that i saw in europe. i am struck by the fact that there are more children in the tenderloin than anywhere in san francisco. people are amazed by this. it is a wonderful opportunity down here. by law, it will be impossible to dislodge all of these folks and replace it with real estate, condos, dentists, not that there is anything wrong with them. but you know. they are not going to be dislodged, they live here. >> we expect development, we like that. the tender line is approach development.